The cranes, the billowing dust, the high-rise skeletons towering over the new Downtown Miami were a harbinger of the fate of Miami’s “oldest bar”, the iconic Tobacco Road.  The quirky two-story 99-year-old building outlasted Prohibition, the Great Depression, World War I and II, major hurricanes and other upheavals, is going to be demolished.  It did not survive Brickell’s $1.05 billion development project, or the opportunity to be sold for $12.5 million when it needed major repairs and was slowing down in revenue.

It hosted its last party, served its last cocktail, and showcased its last local gig before it was permanently closed for business on October 26. Thousands gathered from Saturday night to the early hours of Sunday for its “Last Call” party, but for some, it was best described as a lively wake. The cause of the bar’s death: gentrification.

The Road has gone through a series of changes in its lifetime. It was constructed near the Miami River in 1915, a year after Dade County voted for its own local prohibition, and five years before the nation would do the same. Yet it oddly came with a 1912 liquor license, which rumor has it was lost by a mayor in a bet.

A bakery soon opened, and its second floor became a well-known speakeasy since the building was a place to obtain illegal alcohol at the time. In 1925, it was a place housewives sent Thanksgiving turkeys to be cooked for a dollar and a real estate office on the side. In 1926, a hurricane hit Miami and brought the Depression three years before the rest of the nation would feel it, and in the late 20s to early 30s, it was a gambling den and the rumored hideout of Al Capone.

Nineteen-thirty-eight was the first time it became a bar, known as “Southside”, the previous name of the Brickell area.  But the bar was bombed and placed under new ownership in 1942, and rechristened “Charlie’s Tobacco Road”, after a novel and popular 1930s Broadway play. The live music venue and gay bar was targeted by Miami Police and shut down.

In 1977, it was re-opened as “Tobacco Road”. In 1981 it became both a play house and jazz club. But business wasn’t good, and in 1982, it was given to a real-estate broker, current partner Michael Latterner, who, unable to sell the property, ended up buying it.  With the help of Patrick Gleber and Kevin Rusk, the trio made history.  Gleber never expected the bar to last as long as it did. “This place took my youth. I was 22 years old when I got this bar. Kevin and I. Kevin was 23.”

At the wake party, patrons were saying their final goodbyes to what had become a hub of music and casual food and fun. Like Danielle Mora, who said the Road was a fun spot filled with meaningful memories.  For Dona and Andrew McLachlan, who have been coming to the Road for 11 years, it wasn’t just about the decent priced drinks, the current band playing or the openness of the crowd, it was the magic of Tobacco Road. “It’s going to take a long time before you can bring 100 years of history into the new building,” said Andrew McLachlan. His wife, Dona, would have preferred for the building to be preserved: “They’re not going to leave anything behind, just concrete,” she lamented.  But Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado, another faithful patron, said it was too late because the property was already sold.

A teary eyed Gleber, was in the parking lot area listening to the comments and drinking a beer.  “Miami is Miami, and this is part of Miami. Be it good or be it bad, it’s who we are. We knock down stuff. Grow new stuff. Make new stuff. It’s okay,” he said as he leaned harder on a table, looking up and around him. “That’s the city I love.”

Tobacco Road, 626 S Miami Ave, Downtown Miami, 305-374-1198

Restaurant SooWoo, (means sharing in Korean)  is opening at 555 Washington Avenue, Miami Beach, FL 33139. Created by Seoul born Bok H. An, a 17 year veteran restaurateur, the restaurant will be sharing the best Korean and Japanese food in a newly crafted, stylish kitchen and bar.

“Chefs will brandish their knives at one of 12 teppanyaki tables to simply cut to the heart of the matter with the finest beef and the freshest seafood available. Making perfect rice is an art and we’ll pair it with the best fish available for our sushi. Our Korean dishes, if nothing else, are fun to say: Gochoo – pancake with pork pepper + scallion; Bul Go Gi – thinly sliced marinated rib eye steak; Bibimbop – assorted vegetables, egg fry and beef. After a few sips of sake it may slip off the tongue easier, but it doesn’t matter, you can just point with your chop sticks and we’ll order it for you,” according to principal  Chris Hudnall, a consultant and founder of Bar Culture,

SooWoo is located at 555 Washington Avenue, in Miami Beach and will be serving lunch, dinner, a late night noodle menu and Sunday brunch.

As the result of a lawsuit mediated by Miami--‐Dade Circuit Court, Seasalt and Pepper's husband and wife team Carlos and Maryam Miranda have parted ways with designer Stephane Dupoux.

Carlos Miranda will continue as the owner and operator of the trendy  seafood brasserie Seasalt and Pepper and has announced expansion and opening of his next venture at Seasalt and Pepper, called Modern Garden a hot stone and crudo bar.

To be revealed during Art Basel 2014, the cuisine at Modern Garden will have crudos; a contemporary interpretation of exquisite raw fish and seafood flavored with olive oil, seasalt, citrus and fresh herbs. The hot stones feature a unique dining concept that involve searing prime cuts of meat and fresh seafood on a 850 degree volcanic stone slab right at your table. The space is adorned with two distinctive architecturally designed sculptures to be unveiled during Art Basel.

Seasalt and Pepper, located at 422 NW North River Drive in Miami, Florida, kitchen will be open Wednesday through Sunday from 11:30 am to 11:30 pm and until 10:00pm on Sundays. Telephone: 305.440.4200. For additional information, please visit www.seasaltandpepper.com.  

klimaThis isn't a  Woody Allen remake.  KLIMA Restaurant and Bar  is headed  to Miami Beach, brought by Pablo Fernández-Valdés and Yago Giner, former CEO and COO respectively of the renowned Grupo Tragaluz restaurant group in Barcelona, Spain. The culinary consultant , Albert Ventura,   currently owns Restaurant COURE, Wall 47 and the recently opened El Cercle restaurant in Barcelona.   

The partners are renovating the corner property (formerly Tosca) on Collins Avenue and 23rd Street into a casual 122-seat, 7,700 square-feet,  two levels – a ground floor restaurant and bar with indoor and outdoor dining areas, a pergola, as well as a second floor members-only club –    Spanish restaurant concept inspired by their Barcelona roots.  Chef David ‘Rusti’ Rustarazo, from the group’s restaurant “Coure” in Barcelona, , has just arrived in Miami to join the management team.

Together with culinary consultant Albert Ventura, Chef Rustarazo has created a menu of contemporary and international fare inspired by the Mediterranean and Barcelona regions and prepared with local ingredients sourced from premium South Florida suppliers. “Our aim is to install a much-loved Spanish gastronomic ideology within this exciting city to perfectly complement its rich cultural diversity,” declared Mr, Fernández-Valdés.

KLIMA Restaurant and Bar is located at 210 23rd Street, Miami Beach, FL 33139, and is anticipated to open in November 2014.    www.klimamiami.com

Meat Market has opened its newest location in Palm Beach.   The 3,000-square-foot restaurant  with a high-energy bar scene offers a variety of settings   – from the lavish dining room and bustling bar to the chic, upscale lounge.

The innovative cocktails and standout culinary creations from Meat Market chef/co-owner Sean Brasel, offers the favorite Meat Market classics, a stylish Crudo Bar with raw bar items and signature Meat Market sauces as well as charcuterie and cheese selections.

Meat Market Palm Beach is open Sunday – Thursday from 4 p.m. – midnight; Friday and Saturday from 4 p.m. – 1 a.m. Lunch to launch later this year.   191 Bradley Place. Telephone: (561) 354-9800; www.meatmarket.net.

Food & Wine Talk Radio

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Stefano Versace, Miami, Florida
 
 
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